5 Unique Challenges Related to Family Health

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Kids’ Nutrition On-the-Go

With so many things crowding the schedule, it’s so easy to grab a sugar-filled granola bar or those little corn syrup gels shaped like fruit chews. You know they’re not the best option, but who has time to cut up apple slices when Jimmy has Tae-kwon-do at 4, Mae has a scrimmage at 5, and everyone is going to want dinner when you get home. Rather than rushing around last minute, taking an hour or so on a Sunday evening (or a less busy weeknight) can make all the difference for your child’s health and nutrition. Have your little helpers make up bags of trail mix with heart-healthy nuts, whole grain sugarless cereals, dried fruits, and even dried veggies! Slice up apples and toss them in individual baggies in the crisper drawer. If your kids get grossed out by the natural browning that occurs with cut apples, add a little squirt of real lemon juice to the bag and have them squish it around once you’ve sealed it. The juice keeps the fruit from oxidizing. We also recommend this recipe for healthy granola bars that keep blood sugar running normal but keep the kids happily munching (this author substitutes raisins, craisins, or dried apricots for the dates that are recommended). Make sure the nut butter you use doesn’t have added sugar in it! All of these things can be done in an hour or less, especially if your kiddos are old enough to lend a hand, and can set you up for success for the whole week!

Firing the Electronic Babysitter(s)

It can be so tempting to let the kids plop down on the couch with the TV remote or game controller when they get home – it keeps them quiet (until Mae wants to play something different than Jimmy’s favorite Spiderman game, or Jimmy is tired of Mae’s endless obsession with Wild Kratts) and relatively out of trouble. While the detriments of screen time have been trumpeted far and wide, possibly the biggest threat posed by these activities is their lack of activity – physical movement that is. Yes, keeping Jimmy and Mae occupied on the couch for an hour or two in the evening might seem like bliss, but the harm it’s doing to their health might not be worth the peace and quiet. Make TV or the computer or the game console a privilege to be earned with limited time allowed per week. Running around in the backyard, riding bikes in the cul-de-sac, doing chores that require some physical movement could all be activities that sharpen their brains and hone their health (and maybe earn them a few minutes on the devices). Physical activity is known to improve brain function and increase synaptic connections, so if you want a little Einstein (or just a more well-balanced child) make them play outside before homework to get those juices flowing!

Allergies Beware!

When your kids have allergies it can feel like they have a stranglehold on your entire family. Here are a few tips from the professionals at WebMD for less stress in parenting children with allergies:

  • Vacations. Plan vacations during non-allergy seasons. If spring and summer are rough on your child’s allergies, take a winter ski trip or a fall camping trip instead.
  • Summer Camps. Explore alternative camps if traditional outdoor summer camps pose problems. How about art, computer, or surf camp?
  • Washing Up. Get your child in the habit of showering or bathing and washing her hair every evening to wash off microscopic particles of pollens and grasses.
  • Outdoor Sports. When outdoor field sports such as lacrosse or soccer set off allergies or asthma, look into martial arts, dance, or swim teams.
  • Indoor Outings. Visit library story hours, children’s museums, and indoor playgrounds if you need an activity when the pollen count is high.

Taking the High (and Hard) Road

While it might seem like kids are overprogrammed these days, with six to eight hours of school, care, or related activities being the norm, this doesn’t necessarily mean children are properly socialized. Just having your child around other children doesn’t necessarily, as you probably know, mean they learn to relate well to others. Socialization is a process, one that takes both time and investment on the part of the parent. No matter how well meaning the teacher or care provider, when they are faced with monitoring a small handful or even a dozen or more students, it can be difficult to provide the close attention and care needed for appropriate socialization. The Child Development Institute explains the various stages of socialization as they relate to children’s growth and development. Nurturing your child through the inevitable rejection from peers, hurt feelings, and other childhood moments is essential for healthy social and emotional development. The experts at the institute provide a host of resources for parents, including this informative step-by-step article of suggestions for how to help your child adapt and overcome in the social sphere.

Dealing With Trauma

Although we’d like to think we can provide our children with a carefree, nurturing environment in which to develop, as with other areas of life some situations are beyond our control. Car accidents, the death of a pet, divorce, losing a friend, natural disasters, and even something as terrible as abuse, are all part of life that our children may confront as they grow. Fortunately, there are a lot of resources available to parents, from local support groups and counselors to larger national networks like The National Child Traumatic Stress Network. It’s easy to feel like you are alone when you’re trying to help someone process emotions they’ve never felt before, but that’s not true. Reach out and find help – we all need community when we find ourselves in trouble.
While traumatic stress can often manifest emotionally, sometimes there are physical symptoms as well. We have helped patients overcome physical pain related to traumatic incidents with the help and care of our professional team of doctors. Come visit any one of our 11 locations across Southwest Virginia for an initial consultation. We know parenting can be tough, but we’re here to help.

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